Embracing Flaws: Film Photography in France


Catalan boats docked

I had traveled 7 countries and 8 US states having shot about a dozen rolls of 120 film with my Holga camera, a lightweight plastic film camera from the 1980s. The whole idea of film photography with a Holga is what some people call a “low-fidelity aesthetic” where flaws such as light leaks, blurry edges and other distortions are the norm. Well, if flaws are what you seek, then I have a doozy for you.

When I got home and developed the negatives, two specific rolls came out looking totally ruined. Blotchy chunks of film grain covered the images in some cases making the subject almost unrecognizable, while strange numbers and dots were burned into every shot. I was so disappointed. With the help of some film experts, we determined that my negatives were bad from the start. They were damaged before I ever opened the package. I was so sad about it that I tucked the negs away for a long time.

Recently I decided to embrace the flaws and make something out of these “damaged” negatives. I’m really happy that I did, I love the shots now. They were taken in my favorite seaside village in France. Please enjoy and thank you for reading.

seaside mediterranean hotelOld Light Tower CollioureSummer at the beach in France French men playing petanque Collioure train station France

Here is an example of what the raw film scan looks like from these “damaged” rolls:

Damaged negative example


Meet Suzette
suzetteI have been traveling for the better part of the last ten years in an effort to get out of my bubble. I set out to learn from other cultures and gain some understanding of the world. No matter where I go, I seek out gems off the beaten path and this site is my attempt to show you how to do the same.

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  • Georgianna Lane

    These are so amazing, Suz! I love them! What a story. I’ve never seen negs like this with the numbers????

    • Suzette Barnett

      Hi! Thank you, it’s great to her such nice feedback! This is the first time I’ve shown the composites to anyone and I really enjoyed making them. When I first tried to solve this it was interesting actually because each person I showed the negs to sent them on to other experts and so on; nobody had ever seen anything like it but they sure were intrigued.